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Air Suspension -Slamming an Explorer-

Discussion in 'Seriously Lowered Explorer - Ranger Suspension Tec' started by Fatalshock, December 19, 2008.

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    1. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      I've been lingering on this website for some time and all my searches and attempts to find any rock-solid information about other peoples existing air suspension setups on the second gen Explorer have been fruitless. What I'm wanting to do is collect all the pictures, part numbers, and know how into perhaps a sticky or something. There's tons of information out there, but nothing rock solid. It's been done, and by people on the board here. Can we try to put all the pieces together and organize this info?

      I've installed several air suspension "kits" before, but never on an Explorer. There's tons of things I have questions about but no good search results. For example; I'm not sure how they setup the front suspension with the torsion bars, or do they eliminate the torsion bars? what size airbags fit? Does the ranger suspension actually bolt up or not? 4-Link? Keep the leaf springs? C-notch? Pics? Part numbers? Anything?!?!

      If you have a question, answer, link, or comment, here is the place to put it. Thanks - Ray

      [​IMG]
       
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    3. X~FACTOR

      X~FACTOR Name is Ray

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    4. jumpn4jesus

      jumpn4jesus Active Member

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      That is one SICK paint job!!!! Wonder how much that cost him!
       
    5. waynec

      waynec New Member

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      im looking for all the info my self regaurding lowering the explorers with torsion bars i have 01 sport track that i want to put bags on its just stuff we need to know
       
    6. slammedxonair

      slammedxonair Active Member

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      That truck has or at least used to have a 2 link rear suspension = very poor design. An air ride install on an explorer is going to be 100% custom fabricated and nothing will bolt on. Do you just want bags or do you want to lay true frame? If you want I can put a full parts kit together for you my email is brian@illusivefabrications.com. Right now I am also building a full custom tube chassis for a member on here with a mustang 2 front suspension and independant rear suspension. for a 96 4dr heres his frame in the garage.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Heres my body dropped explorer
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]
       
    7. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      Absolutely awesome, guys. Thanks for the ragtop info, xfactor. My name is Ray too.
      Slammedxonair, Ive been following your threads closely for a while. I'd appreciate any information you're willing to offer. While I personally want to begin assembling the parts needed for this type of build, I intended this thread more to help anyone searching for this information. I couldn't help but notice 30+ threads looking for this info and all of which have either no replies or have outdated information like "You need Ranger suspension parts..."

      Mustang II suspension make the most sence, but I'm confused as to how this could be done on a stock chassis. All kits for this that are available seem to be made to fit to an existing model frame, and the Explorers frame is never on this list of applications. Now, obviously it's going to have to be VERY custom no matter what. This I understand. So no one reading this thread should think this is an easy project to tackle....it's not. I've been building my X in my free time for years, and in researching for air suspension, I always end up saying, "Ehhh, maybe next year." LOL

      Lets get some pics up, and some part #'s SlammedX. Your work looks tip top, man, and I can't wait to see how you progress on that X.

      Oh and I've been searching my heart out to see what was done about removing the front axle shafts when eliminating the 4wd on a 96 XLT. Is there something we can do other than getting out the sawzall or risking my wheels falling off? Thanks guys, Ray


      Some pics of my X.

      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
       
    8. X~FACTOR

      X~FACTOR Name is Ray

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      Hey Ray. Do you have more pictures of that red Explorer. I tried searching the sites but could not locate it. Also, what solenoid did you use to pop the hatch open? Did you use 2? One for the hatch door and one for the glass?
       
    9. Spdrcer34

      Spdrcer34 Well-Known Member

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      Easiest way to pop the hatch is to flip the T-handle so it is on the INTERIOR, and use 1 pull solenoid on the glass....glass pops, and if you need to open the hatch, reach in and twist the T-handle, just as if it were on the exterior.

      Ryan
       
    10. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      Spdrcer34 is absolutely right. Thats what I've got going on right now exactly, except I removed my window handle and got round headed bolts to keep the latch on the inside with just a small solenoid to pop the bearclaw. gave it a smoother look. Wow, those pics are old. Looks a lot different now.
      And no, man. I've been trying to find that page where I got that pic, but If I remember correctly, there was only one picture of that truck anyway. Sry.
       
    11. slammedxonair

      slammedxonair Active Member

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      that red truck is on streetsourcemag.com and i think cardomain.com
      As for part numbers your not going to find anything for an explorer that has a part number compressors valves tanks all that stuff are just rated by sizes and brands, not alot of universal part numbers between dealers out there other than in the products name it self. There is so many options in an air management system you can do anything just about.

      An explorer is a build that is on a case by case basis and makes a HUGE differance if you just want bags or if you want to lay true frame.

      As for mustang 2 parts there are universal kits that require welding and you trim the crossmember to fit your frame rails you just get your right hub to hub width. Alot of people also use pre 95 toyota pickup front clips because they have similar geometry to the mustang 2.

      Also ranger suspension parts will not work on an explorer. best bet for any kind of pictures is to check out rangerpowersports.com in the lowered forum it will give you a basic idea of the process, as well as alot more people to help out.
       
    12. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      I have a ton of questions, so I'll just list them as I think of them in no particular order.

      1) Where does one find a universal mustang II front cross member?
      2) How much do they run?
      3) What are ones options for wheel patterns? I.E. Could I use my existing wheels?
      4) Do you lose your anti lock?
      5) How is the camber when slammed on a Mustang II suspension?
      6) What size bags are used, and what style mounts and plates are used for mounting them?
      7) When slammed with bags, does one need any drive shaft modifications?
      8) hows the ride quality? (not that it matters)
      9) When setting up the rear, what style setup do you recommend?
      10) Is welding directly to the rear end for bag/link/shock mounts okay, or must you disassemble the rear axles first?
      11) What size notch is required to lay frame (or at least go as low as possible)?
      12) What must be modified in the front wheel wells/engine bay?
      13) How does one know what size/style shocks to use?
      14) What are ones options for using a stock front suspension?
      15) What if it is currently 4wd? How do i eliminate the axle shafts without risking the wheels falling off? I already have the 4wd disconnected from the transfer case and would like to remove the whole assembly.
      16) When welding in the front mustang style cross member, does it require the motor or body to be removed?
      17) How about the rear? Once the sheet metal is removed from the trunk area floorboard, can everything be accessed easily enough, or must the body be removed?
      18) Can my factory rear-end be slightly narrowed relatively easily by a shop or is that a difficult task? What does something like that cost? (to tuck my wheels, i would need a half inch on each side)


      I wont overload you right now, but More questions will arise, I promise that. Thanks again for all your feedback so far guys. Awesome stuff!:thumbsup::D
       
    13. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      And just to clarify, This isn't intended to be a complete newbie thread. If anyone's looking to airbag an Explorer, they had better have some fabrication experience and a good working knowledge of how an air suspension works. I am lucky enough to have both. I also understand that there will be NO bolt on parts for this process, and it could be a costly project. What I (as well as many others, I'm sure) would like to see is a part list of what has been used on already built existing setups. Explorers have been slammed many times before, it's just that the owners seem to try to keep the how tos and detailed pictures to a minimum. It's like a lost black art that no one wants to reveal the secrets of. I'm wanting to demystify this whole thing. Thanks again, Ray

      And to answer weather I want bags or to lay frame, I think the bottom line here is that I want to slam this thing. Having bags just to have bags is like bolting up a supercharger just for the whistle.:confused:
       
    14. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      Found this: http://www.heidts.com/index.cfm/page/ptype=product/product_id=40/prd40.htm

      Looks to be a nice product. So would that work with a factory Mustang II style suspension (control arms, steering rack, etc).? Meaning, could I get the rest of it at the boneyard and weld airbag mounts on? If so, what model vehicles would have the same suspension? That would be a nice low budget way to get the front done, right? Any thoughts on this?
       
    15. slammedxonair

      slammedxonair Active Member

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      1) Where does one find a universal mustang II front cross member? Heidts, ebay, welderseries.com, build your own.
      2) How much do they run? depends on if you buy or build so ide say from $600-over $2000 depending on options
      3) What are ones options for wheel patterns? I.E. Could I use my existing wheels? yes 5 on 4.5 and others are available for GM's I think.
      4) Do you lose your anti lock? not sure havent messed with brakes to much more of a mechanic thing and im more of a air ride/ desinger/fabricator
      5) How is the camber when slammed on a Mustang II suspension? pretty much the best you can get on a bagged vehicle along with the old toyota pickup suspensions, hence the point of doing the swap
      6) What size bags are used, and what style mounts and plates are used for mounting them? usually 2500 but 2600 can fit if you know what your doing
      7) When slammed with bags, does one need any drive shaft modifications? not really I usually move my wheel base back an inch to fix any diveshaft to tranny problems. when riding low or cali style the arc of the 4 link puts the rearend right where it should be.
      8) hows the ride quality? (not that it matters) great if setup properly and with shocks, better than stock in my opinion
      9) When setting up the rear, what style setup do you recommend? triangulated 4 link, you could also run a parallel 4 link with a watts link or panhard bar but you will lose room behind the axel for say a fuel cell.
      10) Is welding directly to the rear end for bag/link/shock mounts okay, or must you disassemble the rear axles first? most people just weld to them unless they are narrowing them or rebuilding or something along those lines. i also suggest not welding to the cast pumpkin unless you are a very very proficiant welder with the right equipment. plus if your 4 link is on top of that it will just make your new floor have to be higher usually after tubbing for the C-notch
      11) What size notch is required to lay frame (or at least go as low as possible)? I would run a 10 inch notchso you can mate the bottom of the notch to the curve of the frame and trim off the excess.
      12) What must be modified in the front wheel wells/engine bay? Usually brake lines if they hit the tire, relocate wireing, and pretty much anything that gets in the way of the tire tucking including modifying or removing the ac/heater blower box.
      13) How does one know what size/style shocks to use? measure where the best clearance it is 1 of those one off type of things per the vehicle
      14) What are ones options for using a stock front suspension? you can use it, it usually involves nothcing for clearances, fabricating new control arms, or Z"ing the clip
      15) What if it is currently 4wd? How do i eliminate the axle shafts without risking the wheels falling off? I already have the 4wd disconnected from the transfer case and would like to remove the whole assembly. some options are you can just pull the cv shafts out and have caps machined to keep the dirt out of the bearings, or go with a 2wd spindle on a stock explorer suspension.
      16) When welding in the front mustang style cross member, does it require the motor or body to be removed? i would at least support the motor with a cherry pickerto keep it suspended, taking the fenders off would also give you some head room to work.
      17) How about the rear? Once the sheet metal is removed from the trunk area floorboard, can everything be accessed easily enough, or must the body be removed? it really depends on how the suspension is setup, some you can get to just putting the truck on jackstands, others I would suggest putting a sealed access door such as in an over axel bag setup.
      18) Can my factory rear-end be slightly narrowed relatively easily by a shop or is that a difficult task? What does something like that cost? (to tuck my wheels, i would need a half inch on each side) yes it can be narrowed if your rims are to wide, other options are to use a ranger rearend which is slightly shorter and convert your disk brakes over to it if you have them, or use a toyota pickup rearend which is also a popular option
       
    16. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      SlammedX, Bravo. Fantastic information. I was hoping you could elaborate on number 14. By "z-ing" are you referring to cutting the portion of chassis that the suspension mounts to and raising it to lower the suspension? (....or raise it? You know what I mean...) I'm concerned about doing this for several reasons. Firstly, my tires have little clearance with the fenders now with just my TB bolts removed. I'd like to be able to at least lift the vehicle to where it is now, and it's my understanding this wouldn't help that scenario. Am I missing the point of this?

      Now, I'm a pretty proficient welder, and I feel confident welding to the factory suspension, it's just that I was under the impression that one could not fully slam an explorer with the factory front. I guess it simply doesn't have enough travel. Either that or the camber will be damn near horizontal. What are the truths about this? I would have no problem If this was as simple as: 1) remove 4wd axles 2) Weld bag mount on lower control arm 3) weld upper mount to chassis 4) Notch frame and reinforce as necessary for bags 5) weld shock mounts where needed 6) run lines, wiring, and thats it. Is it that simple, or are there other things I'm not thinking of?

      As nice as a Mustang II front clip would be, I don't think it's something I would want to tackle unless I was doing a full frame off. I don't plan on that any time soon... Any info (and please God, PICTURES) of an existing front setup retaining factory suspension would be great. Thanks again guys, this thread is awesome. -Ray
       
    17. X~FACTOR

      X~FACTOR Name is Ray

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      slammedxonair for president! :thumbsup::D

      Except for the below though. :p:
      You don't want to just cap that off. Your wheels will fall off. The end of that CV shaft is what is holding the bearings together. What I did with mine is I separated the end of that CV shaft (gutted it) and left that piece alone. So when you are looking at the wheel side, it looks like you still have the front axle. I would take some pictures for you but its pouring rain outside in NY right now. Let me know if you need it. I will take some tomorrow. :)

       
    18. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      Thanks Ray. Those pictures would be really helpful. I can kind of picture what you are saying, but to see it is a different thing all together. Does this leave a stub that could interfere with bag placement? If you could also maybe explain the process of what needed to be disassembled and what tools are required, that would really help a lot of folks out. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!!! - Ray
       
    19. X~FACTOR

      X~FACTOR Name is Ray

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      A little ghetto but it works and more importantly, its FREE! :D :thumbsup:
       

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    20. slammedxonair

      slammedxonair Active Member

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      here you go the only pics I know of off the top of my head for a stock front suspension, its a ranger edge also by the way so an explorer setup would be very similar depending on how you want to lay out and the wheel size.

      http://www.rangerpowersports.com/forum/showthread.php?t=227762&highlight=edge+bag

      As for 4wd stuff I'm not 100% sure on how the bearings and everything are connected, the frame I'm working on now is a 4x4 but I wasnt going to detach any of it. I'm just using the stock frame for jigging purposes, well see maybe I can bag this thing once the new frame is built and do a tech article on it or someting. but im not making any promises lol I'm not even sure whats going to happen with the stock frame yet when I'm done.
       
    21. X~FACTOR

      X~FACTOR Name is Ray

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      Nice! Do you know where the guy ended up placing his shocks?
       

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    22. X~FACTOR

      X~FACTOR Name is Ray

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      Also, searching around the forum, I came across this picture. What is the purpose of this? Can this work with the Explorer?
       

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    23. FROADER

      FROADER Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Considered a "Z" in the frame. It's to help lay frame without getting the suspension as low as you would normally need to if you didn't "Z" the frame.

      For an explorer, I think you would have to raise the floor of the cargo area as much as your "Z" the frame. You would also have to mess with body mounts, obviously. Do it! :D

      Probably some motor mount changes too since the trans will be however many inches lower you go on the "Z." Or if you're body dropping you can just build a new trans x-member and raise the tunnel for the trans more. And I'm sure there is more. :)

      Search that site for "Z frame."
       
      Last edited: December 26, 2008
    24. slammedxonair

      slammedxonair Active Member

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      Nope, a Z raises the the engine/ crossmember with all of the suspension mounts so that the bottom of the crossmember is level with the bottom of the frame. The reason for doing this is because the engine crossmember hangs below the frame. So when the truck is layed out the front crossmember would hold the front of the truck up higher than the rest of it, in other words the truck would sit cali style when layed out and not lay out perfictly flat.

      No reason to mess with any floor or body mounts just because of a Z that only comes into play with a body drop. But depending on the size of the Z the type of truck and other variables make sure motor/ tranny does not need to be tunneled into the firewall area because it will raise the motor and tranny. You May be able to lower the motor some by building new motor mounts or modifying the stock ones but make sure you have good oil pan clearances.

      Also the 91-94 Ibeam suspension explorers do not have to be Z'ed to lay out flat.

      Now if you are keeping your leaf springs with bags on them not relocating your gas tank (to a fuel cell) and not building a raised transmission crossmember(in other words your not laying true frame) you wont need to Z the front clip as the truck will sit level laying out on the crossmembers and rear spring hangers.

      As for shocks you just put them where ever they fit and function correctly with out the wheels hitting them when turning. Most setups go from the back side of the lower control arm up to the frame. You can notice the upper shock bracket in the picture with the Z. But make sure the tires do not rub them at any point in a turn at ride height.

      This thread and the other body drop thead should be stickied!
       
    25. FROADER

      FROADER Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      I realized after I posted that you don't Z the rear of the frame. :confused:

      So with say a 2-3" Z, there is enough room for the trans under the cab? That's handy. :)
       
    26. Fatalshock

      Fatalshock New Member

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      Well, I had to print this picture out and take it outside for comparison. What I found is that this is not a very easy situation. While it would obviously lower the truck and raise the front crossmember, there are a number of things that would have to be modified also. Firstly, the motor mounts would need to be lowered on the inside of the frame rails so you could close your hood without the motor sticking through. Secondly you would need to also cut and z the front portion of the chassis (in front of suspension mounts) so that the radiator support would still hold the radiator without it also poking through the hood. Another thing I couldn't really tell just by looking, but the steering column linkage before the rack would need some shortening/adjusting obviously. Aside from all that, the inner tire wells and most brackets and mounts would need some removal or modification since everything will be either moving up or down from it's factory locale.
      Another issue people attempting this should realize is that the chassis is not simply straight bar stock steel. it has tons of bends and gradual turns. Behind the suspension (where the chassis is cut in the picture up there) the chassis narrows width wise, meaning the chassis rails bend inward towards the tranny. I would cut the chassis in the straightest portion which seems to be right behind where it is cut in that picture. They would have had to weld in a ton of reinforcements to mate the cuts together there, so I'm not sure what the deal with that is.
      I've done several chassis for Lamborghini replica vehicles (both tubular chassis and Fiero) and when a fiero based chassis is used the rear engine cradle needs to be extended out roughly a foot, and up several inches. Now with "Zing" an Explorer, this is essentially the same as what I did on those chassis' but in this case it is just going to be raised up... not forward and up, so it should be much easier. To do that and keep everything straight all you have to do is tack a perfectly straight piece of angle iron anywhere to the chassis with a small level clamped on before you make any cuts (while the chassis is sitting on level ground at normal ride height). From there it's just making tons of measurements diagonally and every other way to make sure you're square and then welding in appropriate gussets and filler pieces.
      Over all, it seems like a great way to lower the front without horrible camber problems, but there is a lot of modification required. Granted, it's not that bad for anyone who is confident enough that they could weld it safely, but it is definitely not a weekend job.

      The sad part is is that I did some measurements....Even with my 20's I'd only be tucking roughly 2" in the front if I used the stock crossmember location without "Z-Ing". That thing is LOW!!
       

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